Ana Maria Machado, Brazilian author and winner of the Hans Christian Andersen award, brings us the tragic story of Rosario, a young slave from the late 1800s who appears as a ghost to some children living in contemporary time.
Martin and his friends are helping their parents turn an old Brazilian coffee plantation into an inn. The children sleep in a shed, which is being converted into guest rooms. One night they hear crying. Gradually, the slave Rosario appears to them and tells the story of why she is so sad. It is a terrible and tragic account that reveals the danger and instability that existed in Brazil, in the late 1800s, when slavery finally ended. Martin is distressed because he is not a very good student, but he has promised to record Rosario's story in book form. Humor and happy everyday moments in the children's lives enliven the book.
Though Rosario's experience may have happened in another world, by the time the children and the reader confront the terrible episode at the heart of the story, the utter hellishness of slavery is made shockingly clear.